The other Lady
Justin Bieber deserved better (really): Esperanza Spalding is a Grammy travesty
When it comes to Grammy night, from my point of view there is a strict code of priority: Awards, performances, couture and then tawdry rumors.
So without further ado, let's review the best and worst of the 53rd Grammy Awards on Sunday night in that order:
A Night Prepped For Pop Turns Country — Heading into the Grammy ceremony, it seemed pre-ordained that the night was going to belong to either teen pop sensation Justin Bieber or 21st Century pop diva Lady Gaga. Surprisingly it was another Lady that was the big winner on the evening.
Country newcomers Lady Antebellum’s single “Need You Now” won five of the six awards it was nominated for including Record of the Year, Songs of the Year and Best Country Album.
Lady Gaga was not embarrassed winning three of the five awards she was nominated for, but Bieber was. Despite the pre-Grammy hype, he was completely shutout in the Best Pop Vocal Album and Best New Artist categories. Which brings us to the night’s biggest upset — even bigger than Arcade Fire in Album of the Year.
Best New Artist A Jaw-Dropper — The fact the Bieber lost the Best New Artist Award is believable considering the field included strong competition from the soulful Florence & The Machine, rapper Drake and the folk strings of Mumford & Sons.
The fact that they all lost to Esperanza Spalding is a travesty.
No offense to Ms. Spalding, because she seems to be an immensely talented jazz artist, but she simply didn’t have the sales numbers or buzz to merit this award. Not since Milli Vanilli’s win in 1990 has there been a more peculiar turn of events in this category.
“F*% You, Cee Lo Stole The Show” — Dressed like a psychedelic disco ball-dipped chicken that celebrated the heyday of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Cee Lo Green performed his censored song, retitled “Forget You”, with the backing of a super-fly Muppet entourage and actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
Not only did his performance surpass anything else on the night’s Grammy stage, he gave us the best character to sit at a grand piano since Elton John some 35 years ago.
Performances Surprisingly Focused On The Past — From the nearly 15 minute tribute to Aretha Franklin to open the show by a cross-section of female superstars, including Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride and Houston’s own Yolanda Adams, to an acoustic version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” by Norah Jones, Keith Urban and John Mayer, the night’s many performances were highly focused on pop music’s past, as opposed to its future.
Even Rolling Stone’s lead man Mick Jagger bypassed his myriad hits to pay tribute to Solomon Burke with a cover of “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.”
By comparison, the birth of Lady Gaga from her pre-Grammy “womb” prop and the pairing of Bieber and Usher fell a little flat. Only Cee Lo and Muse’s faux British stage riot for “Uprising” did credit to any performances of music that was actually released last year.
- Worst Outfit Court Is Still Out — I can't decide if Miley Cyrus's side-cleavage, Rihanna's feather-striped peek-a-boo gown or Miranda Lambert's ill-fitting pleather was best suited for the strip club.
As a critic I was offended. As a man I was curiously confused.